KITS AND PIECES
WITH A FAMILY HISTORY OF BUILDING UNIQUE, ONE-OFF V EH IC LES, JKP UR VIS COULDN’ T RESIST THE OPPORTUNITY TO EXCHANGE HIS PORSCHE 994 FOR THIS STYLISH, SLEEK, LOCALLY BUILT COUP E
JK Purvis happened to be browsing Trade Me during June 2016, when he saw a yellow car and asked his wife what she thought of it. Her comment was, “It looks alright, but it’s a bit yellow.” JK was more than impressed with it. His daily-drive at the time was the car he had dreamed of owning since he was a young boy, a Porsche 944. The problem was, once you own your dream car, what do you buy next? Perhaps the answer would be an amazing-looking vehicle that is the only one of its kind in the world.
Through Trade Me, JK offered the car’s owner and builder, Peter Andrews, a straight swap: his 944 for the Patero. Initially, Peter was not interested, as his reason for selling the car was to try to reduce his own automotive overhead. The Patero did not sell, and it vanished off Trade Me. Believing that he had missed out, JK kept an eye out for other unusual and interesting cars, but when the Patero appeared again a few months later, he repeated his offer. This time, Peter was more interested, but was not prepared to consider it until the auction finished. Again the car did not find any buyers, so he agreed to the swap.
In October, JK mentioned to his wife that he was popping up to Taupo for the weekend and would go up in the Porsche but come back in a car called the ‘Patero’. The fact that JK is telling us this story says a fair bit about the understanding nature of his wife, albeit at the time that she had not twigged that the car JK would come back with was the yellow one she had seen some months earlier. When she did see the car, her only comment was, “Seriously, when it comes time to buy another car I am picking it. I am going to feel like a goldfish in this.”
She need not have worried, because, since then, she has been out in the car many times, and most people are not even aware she is inside, such are its striking looks — and colour! Even driving it from Taupo to his home in Lower Hutt, JK was surprised by the attention it attracted. Just getting petrol is no longer a chore but an event.
Andrews. Peter owns a small company called Concept Cars NZ, in Katikati. At the time, the Patero was the 16th car that Peter had built. To say that he has petrol instead of blood pumping through his veins is a bit of an understatement. Not only is it in his blood, but it is also in his DNA. His father, Phil Andrews, was the creator of New Zealand’s best-known production vehicle, the Trekka, and Peter himself had gone down the same road in the 1980s when he’d tried to put his own car into the New Zealand market. It was called the ‘Asco Aura’. Sadly, Peter could not get any momentum going with this project, and production stopped after only 11 cars had been sold. The Aura has now faded from sight, but, for the few that remember, it has now become a unique part of New Zealand automotive history. Since then, Peter has mainly focused on bespoke cars that he can build in a small shed, without the need to store jigs and moulds.
The best way to describe the Patero is as a modern interpretation of the American neoclassic car. From start to finish, it took about nine months to build. The chassis is from a modern Toyota Crown, which provided the JK had swapped his Porsche with the car’s owner, designer, and builder, Peter
brakes and power steering. Into the middle of this, after a bit of hammering and lot of muttering, was inserted the central body tub of a 1980s Nissan EXA. This took care of the doors, T-top roof, and a reasonable portion of the interior. Doors are always the hardest part of any homebuilt car, which is why most kit cars do not include them. The advantage of using the EXA body tub was that the doors already fitted, and it had the cool T-top, too.
The unique appearance of the front of the car was important to Peter, as it would set the tone for the final look, so the right choice of headlights was quite important. Consequently, Peter spent some time just driving around town looking at headlights, before settling on those used for the late ’90s Toyota Corolla. It was from these that the final look of the car evolved, from the Bentley-type grille to the Camaro-like rear end. The rest of the exterior of the car was done using carefully shaped urethane foam, which was covered in fibreglass and resin to get the final shape. This was followed by the liberal application of several litres of body filler and a lot of elbow grease to get a smooth finish. More foam and fibreglass were applied to the interior, effectively masking any remnants of the EXA from all but the most eagle-eyed car spotter.
The final result was the car you see here, which first appeared on New Zealand roads in 2005, and it has caused confusion among car spotters ever since.
The key to confusion
To assist the car to perform as well as it looks, Peter fitted a Lexus 4.0-litre quad-cam V8, mounted well back into the firewall. If a mechanic wants to move from the radiator to the front of the engine, he almost has to take a packed lunch, such is the distance between them.
The first thing that anybody who hops into the car notices is that there is nowhere to put the key. It is not until a button is pressed in the door panel that a portion of the centre console rises up, revealing — along with the radio — the ignition and start button. The little motor that raises the console is quite powerful and has, on a few occasions, proved itself as an effective key guillotine. JK has watched in dismay, after accidentally pressing the door button, as the centre console retracts and chops off the end of his key. Indeed, it’s a good thing that keys for this car are cheap, as JK now has six spares and carries a pair of long-nose pliers to extract the other half of the key from the lock!
As an aside, name ‘Patero’ was created from an amalgamation of the initials of Peter, his wife, and his children’s names. It was a made up word, and it sounded pretty cool — or so he thought.
‘Slippery’ or ‘ wily’
Big car companies spend a lot of time choosing names for their upcoming models. This includes checking out what a potential name could mean in other languages. A classic example of when it goes it wrong is the Chevy Nova, which in Spanish means ‘Chevy doesn’t go.’ Mazda also got it wrong with its ‘Laputa’, which in Spanish means ‘the whore’.
JK, being the conscientious owner that he is, decided to investigate the name using the internet and Google. Spanish, as we have learned, seems to have a way of taking harmless-sounding words and giving them a unique twist. ‘Patero’ appeared second on his search results list, and in Spanish it means ‘slippery’, or ‘wily’. Nothing wrong with that name in a language spoken by about 430 million people.
Sadly, such was not the case for the name in the second language of his own country. As hard as it is to believe, the bunch of letters that Peter threw together appeared atop Google’s list, with a reference to New Zealand’s own Maori dictionary. I will not explain its meaning here, but the title to this story should give you a clue. Needless to say, any schoolboy between the ages of six and 12 will think it’s an awesome name. The young Maori boys who live next door to JK share that opinion, and have given the car the big thumbs up.
Peter was a bit nonplussed when he found out what the name meant, whereas JK believes that it adds to the colour and legend of a simply outstanding car. It is not an ordinary vehicle, so why should it have an ordinary name?
JK uses the car as his everyday driver, and it can be seen regularly commuting into Wellington. He says that, every time he hops into it, it brings a smile to his face. The rumble of a powerful V8 is one of the few automotive sounds that cannot be topped. The Lexus V8 is proving to be a very reliable engine — it always starts first time and has more than enough power for any situation. Future plans (besides giving the car a good tidy-up) may include a subtler repaint — a suggestion from the wife — and perhaps a five-speed manual gearbox. But, for the next year or so, JK will just enjoy driving it.